Senior Beef Ambassador Takes On Challenge of Awareness, Education
by TERESA SCHIFFER
Emile Limoges didn’t grow up on a cattle ranch, but the 17-year-old high school student has a fervent enthusiasm for agriculture that you don’t often find in folks who weren’t raised in that lifestyle. In July, Limoges won the position of Senior Florida Beef Ambassador. He is excited to be a spokesperson for Florida’s cattle industry and looks forward to sharing his passion with the public.
The Senior Florida Beef Ambassador is chosen each year in a three-part competition in which high school students prove their knowledge of the industry. In the first stage, students field questions from a mock consumer inquiring about various products or processes. Next is a mock media interview, where students answer more questions showcasing their industry acumen. Finally, each student does a short presentation on one aspect of the beef industry.
When Limoges was in elementary school, his sister, who was in high school, became involved with the Future Farmers of America program. This inspired the younger Limoges to join 4-H, and then FFA once he reached middle school. By the time he was 11 years old, Limoges was participating in livestock shows.
“I started out showing cattle,” Limoges recalls. “I started with a chapter heifer, and then got my own heifers, and then I moved into showing pigs. I’ve always shown cattle in some capacity. For the last seven or eight years I’ve shown cattle and swine. Right now, I mainly show pigs, but last year I showed a steer at the state fair, and I won Senior Showmanship there.”
Limoges is currently the FFA chapter president at Zephyrhills High School. He shows pigs at the state and national levels. As the Senior Florida Beef Ambassador, he and the Intermediate Beef Ambassador, Reagan Hancock, will be responsible for updating the Florida Beef Ambassador Facebook and Instagram pages.
“The real purpose of Senior Beef Ambassador,” elaborates Limoges, “is to educate the general public on the beef industry – not people who know about it as much. Rather, we’re trying to educate people that don’t know a lot about it and have questions.”
Limoges will be working at the Florida Cattlewomen’s booth at the State Fair, handing out beef samples and talking to visitors who explore the Beef Hall of Fame. He will also travel with the Cattlemen for “Boots on the Hill” at the Florida Capitol, and then on to the Florida Cattlemen’s Convention next summer to compete as a youth cattleman while advocating for the beef industry.
“My goal with this position,” Limoges says, “is to impact as many people as possible, to meet as many people as possible in the general public who don’t know about the beef industry. It’s really easy to talk to people who do know, and the kids at shows, but my goal is to target more of those people that don’t know anything so we can get a lot of those common misconceptions about the beef industry out of their heads.”
The Florida Beef Ambassadors will be making classroom visits to talk to students and hand out stickers, hoping to spark conversations at family dinner tables about where the food on the plate comes from. Like many in the agricultural community, Limoges recognizes the pivotal role that youth play in the future of the industry.
“Young people are incredibly vital in agriculture, just as much as people who are working as agriculturalists right now,” he says. “You always hear that we are the future, and the truth is – we are. If we’re not getting young people involved and igniting that passion in them for the agricultural industry and for the beef industry, then there’s going to be no one to take over once everyone else is done.”